Well…it has been quite the week for Michigan football. People far more qualified than I (and some perhaps far less) have written and recorded a lifetime’s worth of content on the goings on with the football team and athletic program since Saturday’s game against Minnesota. So, I will devote space here to other things.
I’ve posted a picture before of Michigan’s first football team but haven’t talked about one of its most notable members, Irving Pond. Pond was an engineering student at Michigan who would found with his brother Allen the highly successful architectural firm Pond and Pond. Three of the student unions in the Big 10 were designed by the Pond brothers: Purdue, Michigan State, and of course Michigan. So what does this have to do with football?
Well as a member of the 1879 team, Pond is credited with scoring the first touchdown in Michigan football history. The actual story is perhaps a bit more complicated than that, but he was certainly the embodiment of the student-athlete model. When I used to give tours I always liked to point out the two statues above the main entrance to the Union. There is a scholar looking towards the academic buildings on the Diag and an athlete facing the stadium and practice complexes. In the early 20th century these were meant to embody the ideal ‘Michigan man’ (originally the Union was just for male students) a term that has since taken on a much more complex meaning. Pond passed away at the age of 82 in 1939, but this picture from his 70th birthday shows that he was up for a good time well into his later years, long jumping over a giant flatbread pizza (perhaps with a sourdough crust).